“When Blue is Green”: Towards a history of workers as environmentalists in British Columbia and beyond

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-03
Identifier: 
etd20671
Keywords: 
Labour
Environmentalism
Environmental discourses
Working Class
British Columbia
Environmental Justice
Abstract: 

This dissertation examines the history of working-class environmentalism. It investigates the relationship between work and the environment and between workers and environmentalists. It presents five case studies that focus on the relationship between workers and the environment in British Columbia from the 1930s to the present, with particular emphasis on the forestry industry. Each case study examines how the interests of workers both intersect and conflict with the interests of environmentalists and how this intersection of interests presented itself throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Additionally, this dissertation examines how the working class has historically been constructed as the adversary of nature or wilderness and aims to explore how the working class, resource workers in particular, have come to symbolize that adversarial relationship. As well, it hopes to answer more epistemological questions about why working class environmentalism has not entered our lexicon and how lacking a sense of the working-class environmentalist serves to shape a discourse in which the history of worker environmentalism has been largely passed over. This study also explores how the collective memory of environmentalism has been constructed to exclude notions of class, and thus how environmentalism and the working class have been constructed as mutually exclusive categories. While this dissertation explores the exclusion of working class environmentalism it also attempts to write the worker-environmentalist back into history and show how teaching working class and labour history can help remedy this exclusion.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Leier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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